A growing number of China’s millionaires are choosing Britain for their holidays, according to a new survey.Attracting Chinese tourists has been a key priority for the Government. In December, David Cameron overruled Theresa May to make it easier for Chinese visitors to get visas.
Now the annual Hurun survey of wealthy Chinese has seen Britain leapfrog Italy, Australia, Dubai and the Maldives as a tourist destination.
This year, the UK is in fifth spot behind France at number one and the United States in second.
France has always been a popular draw for Chinese tourists not just because of the romance of Paris, but also because they can apply for a Europe-wide visa that allows them entry into any of the 25 countries covered under the Schengen agreement.
“There has been a surge in popularity of Britain as a luxury travel destination. It is a significant leap,” said Rupert Hoogewerf, the founder of Hurun. “The key driver I guess was the Olympics,” he added.
Hurun surveyed 551 Chinese millionaires, 69 of whom had fortunes of more than 100 million yuan (£10 million). Their average age was 39 and they made an average of 3.4 trips abroad annually.
Mr Hoogewerf said most of the visitors planned to visit London and remain “around one hour’s drive of Heathrow”. Some of them left considerable chunks of their fortune behind.
“I met someone last night who has bought a unit in One Hyde Park,” he said.
Prices in the central London residential complex begin at £20 million.
While the UK’s fortunes rose, Japan and Australia fared worse.
“Japan has had a terrible year – not helped by the Diaoyu Islands and the tsunami,” he said. Japan and China have been clashing over the Diaoyu, or Senkaku, islands, an uninhabited chain that lie between the two countries.
British luxury brands were also on the up, Mr Hoogewerf said, noting that Burberry has risen into the top 10 for the first time.
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